Thursday, May 20, 2010


A few weeks ago, I was scanning my email, when I saw “it.” My hands began to tremble and my heart began to race. There was an email from Literary Agent Mark McVeigh in my in box. I had been fortunate enough to win a Skype chat with Mark in February. To my surprise, Mark invited me to attend a webinar he was conducting about the publishing industry. Naturally, my technophobia kicked in causing my hands to perspire and my knees to knock. (But then I thought back to our Skype chat and the volume sign he held up to let me know that he couldn’t hear me. I knew he’d help again if I was having technical problems.) I accepted Mark’s invitation. Who wouldn’t? He was giving me another wonderful opportunity to learn about the publishing world.

Mark hosted a group of lucky followers in his first 90 minute webinar. We were able to see and hear Mark and ask him questions. We also could see each other and had a chat box on one side of the computer screen. It was a great experience and I’d like to share some of the advice Mark gave us.

-When researching agents, keep an individual file on each of them with their likes and dislikes. (Study your targets; Google them, read interviews, blogs, and their website.) This way you won’t have to look up their information repeatedly; you’ll have it all organized when you are ready to query them.
-Follow their submission policy; not following could automatically throw you out of consideration.
-All of your correspondence should be business like. (Just because you feel like you know them from their blog, doesn’t mean you’re buds and you can write to them like they are old friends.)
-Know the market; what is selling and what is not selling. Pay attention to the Publisher’s Market Place, it will give you lots of information about agents, editors and what is selling.
-Keep good records of who you have queried.
-Show editors and agents that you are a versatile writer.
-Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Mark talked to us about how to pitch your manuscript both orally and in a query. He even discussed what to do when you get an offer. (I think that means he has faith in us.) In the 90 minute webinar, Mark gave us so much information! I had five pages of notes. He also gave us an assignment. (Knees knocking, again…) We were assigned to write a query letter for one of our projects, using all of the information he had given us in the webinar, and he would do a line by line edit and a follow up. Talk about a great guy!

During the webinar we shared our email addresses and decided to start an online critique group; Mark One (page at a time). If you check out my sidebar you can see some of the other lucky writers that Mark invited to this webinar.

One of my favorite things that Mark said during our webinar was, “Be Fearless! Decide who you are and be it.” I think that’s wonderful advice. I am truly grateful to Mark for taking me under his wing. If you haven’t checked him out please hop over to his blog and his website…Who knows, you might find your perfect agent…

If you are interested in future webinars, email me at skmayh at q dot com.

BTW…Who has surprised you by taking an interest in your writing? 
FYI: check out my book give-away, DL's This is Sparta celebration and sign up for Jackee's May challange...


  1. Very cool! So awesome to be taken under his wing :-) Thanks for sharing his advice with us.

  2. Very cool, Sharon! And thanks for sharing. I met Mark when he was here in Austin in January.

  3. That is incredible! Aren't you glad you didn't chicken out? I'd love to see an online webinar like that. I've never been on one where everyone could see each other. (that may be a good thing....)

    I'd take full advantage of his generosity! You never know where it might lead.

  4. Very helpful. Thanks for sharing ;-)

  5. This is a great list of tips in one place. I am always amazed with agents and editors take time out of their busy schedules to give aspiring writers a leg up!

  6. Oh, great post, Sharon! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Great information Sharon. Thanks so much for sharing. Sounds like you had a wonderful webinar.

  8. Great write up of our most wonderful webinar!! I have learned so much valuable information from Mark between the Skype chat and webinar. Great guy.

  9. Sharon,

    What an opportuniy. Mr. McVeigh is kind to do such a thing, especially the assignment. I have checked out his agency previously, and it's bookmarked. I imagined him being both a good agent and good person. Your post has proven that. I write crime fiction, so not so sure it fits with his agencies needs, but who knows. As always, great and helpful information.

  10. This is great stuff, Sharon! I'm so excited for you - it must have been wonderful. My knees would have been shaking too. Thanks for sharing what you learned. :-)

  11. This is some great stuff Sharon! Thank you for sharing...and you are very lucky to be under Mark's wing! :)

  12. WOW, that is so great, that's even better than a tummy rub!

  13. Melissa--Thanks for stopping in...This is just a snippet of all the things Mark taught us in the webinar. (I tend to get bored with really long posts, so I just hit a few pointers that he shared.)

    PJ--I haven't met him person, we've Skyped and done the webinar. I imagine he is just as genuine in person as he is over the net. :)

    MissyV--I could have easily chickened out...But I love a contest as much as I love bunny tracks ice-cream...It has been a great opportunity. :)

    Wendy--Thanks for dropping in. Mark is paying it forward with several aspiring writers...
    (Wendy's post today is about paying it forward.)

    Bluestocking--It really has amazed me too. Mark has given me some great advice in addition to the line by line edit of a critique letter. (I feel very lucky!)

    Corey--Your are welcome...thanks for stopping in and reading my words. :)

    Buffy--It was wonderful. As much of a technophobe as I am it's amazing that I've managed to do skype chats and a webinar. I must say Mark did encourage us to step out of our technology comfort zone.

    Kelly--We sure have been blessed...and it all started with a Tweet. :)

    Sean--You know once I won Mark's contest I was terrified...Okay, so now I have a face to face with an agent...what do I do with him? He has been really good at helping me figure out how to utilize his knowledge. Plus he's been very kind to me on a personal level. I hope you check out everything he reps. He covers a wide variety of clients.

    Shannon--It's been nice knowing I have someone who will be honest about my ideas and give me advice. Thanks for stopping in today.

    DL--When opportunity knocks you've got to answer the door...I keep lurking on Twitter, but haven't come across anything quite as good as Mark's contest.

    Brian--Thanks so much for making me smile. I hope you get a nice tummy rub for your birthday. :)

  14. WOW! What an awesome opportunity ... thanks for sharing parts of it with us!

  15. Kelly H-Y--Thanks for stopping in. I hope the bits I picked out were useful. :)

  16. What a wonderful opportunity! Thanks for summarizing the webnar, it was very insightful!

  17. A contest I entered once was judged by a famous writer. I emailed the judge after the contest to thank her for her feedback. To my surprise, she emailed me back and told me how much she loved my book. We still keep in touch and she even sent me a magnet to keep on my file cabinet. It says, "Never, never, never give up."

  18. What a wonderful opportunity you had and thank you so much for sharing all those information with us- they are very useful.
    Anyone who shows interest at anything I write still surprises, amazes and over joys me! :)

  19. Wow. It's really cool of Mark to invest so much time in all those writers. A line by line query critique is a fabulous opportunity.

    I hope you and your new critique group have a blast!

  20. Wow!!! What a great webinar!! That is a first for me to hear such a word and I love unusual words- webinar. Brilliant

    And thank you for sharing these wise words - all very helpful! Good luck with your assignments and critique group - what wonderful opportunities!

    Be fearless!! I thoroughly agree.

    Take care

  21. Thanks for stopping in, Everyone. This is just a little bit of Mark's webinar on publication. He's going to teach several others that are genre specific. Like I said, if you are interested let me know and I'll pass the information along to Mark.

    Karen G--Thanks for stopping in. :) I'll post some other things that I learned later...I try not to post too much at a time. I find that I absorb information better in small doses. Susan Fields is going to post about the webinar too.

    Amy--I know about the magnet, but can't remember who sent it to you...Was it Mary?

    Lua--Thanks for dropping in. :) I'm right there with hubby reminds me every once and a while to watch people's eyes...if they are glazing over I need to stop talking about my aspirations. LOL

    Suzanne--Thanks for stopping in for a visit. I'm not sure how many aspiring writers Mark is working with. I think there were 8 of us at the webinar. In the upcoming webinars he's planning on having up to 10 people. It's a cool opportunity to get comfortable with an agent and to learn about your craft and the industry.

    Kitty--It is a lovely word isn't it? It just rolls off the tongue. I'm glad you found my post beneficial. :)

  22. That is great advice! What a wonderful opportunity, and better yet you got a crit group to boot!

  23. Awesome opportunity!!! So happy you did it:)

  24. Good luck, I'm not at that point yet, best of luck.

  25. Love the angle you took with this post, Sharon! Mark definitely gave us a boost of confidence as writers, by sharing wonderful information and tips with us, didn't he?

  26. No, it was Hank Phillipi Ryan. <3 her!

  27. Sounds like you had an exciting opportunity ~ good for you!

    In reply to your question on my blog today ~ yes ~ I do indeed take my own photos. I'm just an amateur ~ but I'm learning! :)

    Have a lovely night Sharon!

  28. Great write-up, Sharon! I hope the critique group's going well. :)

  29. Great info, Sharon. You really nailed it on how helpful Mark has been. We've been very fortunate in receiving guidance from someone with so much first-hand knowledge.

    ~ Yaya
    Yaya's Home

  30. Lydia--Thanks for dropping by. You are right, the critique group was an added bonus.

    Terri--Thanks, me too. :)

    Jeff--It's all about the learning curve, right? When you are ready shoot me an email. :)

    Hema--Aww, thank you. I'm glad you liked my format.

    Amy--Thanks for stopping back in...I love the heart <3

    Catherine--You take lovely pics! Mark is wonderful. I was so lucky to have met him and had this opportunity.

    Susan--Thanks, I look forward to seeing your post. :)

    Joany--So true! Mark's twelve years of editorial work and his experience as a teacher make him the perfect agent/teacher...

  31. I don't know where my comment went yesterday, but I'll try again...

    Thanks for the heads up about Mark McVeigh. Susan told me too and I was so sad that next week won't work and so happy there'll be other chances!

    Good luck with the challenge, thanks for spreading the word, and CONGRATS about the new critique group!

  32. Wow! What an opportunity! I would have been nervous, too. But all that great info... Thanks for sharing it with us!

  33. What great information -- and an incredibly opportunity! Thanks for sharing.

  34. This is the first time I've come across the term Webinar - sounds like a great opportunity and thanks for the tips.

  35. That's wonderful! Congrats to you and great, great information. I really appreciate what you wrote here.

  36. What a great opportunity! I'm glad this was so helpful--I love agents who are willing to help out aspiring authors--so, so cool.

  37. All very good guidelines to follow. I subscribe to Publisher’s Market Place and will be querying very soon. Organiation is the name of the game. Stay orgainized and significantly increase your chances of success.

    Some pretty successful authors have taken notice of my work. I don't want to jinx myself so I'll abstain for the time being.

    Stephen Tremp

  38. Jackee--Just let Susan or I know if you are interested in one of his future classes and we'll get you on his email list.

    Jill--It was/is a great opportunity. Just having the experience of chatting with an agent lets you see they are just people like us with a similar passion. :)

    Elana-- OMGOODNESS you got a book deal!!!! Congratulations! Thanks for stopping in.

    Maddy--I'm not sure if it's a real word or computer says it's a spelling mistake, but I like it. It's fun to say. :o

    Amy S--Thanks, I'm glad you found it useful. I'll post some other things I learned later. :)

    LILA--Thanks for dropping by. :) It is amazing when people who are being successful take an interest in those of us who are still in the aspiring stages of our careers.

    Stephen--Mark said belonging to PMP is beneficial. I haven't subscribed to them yet. (shame on me) I do read their free newsletters though. Thanks for stopping in. :)

  39. You truly are a treasure trove of information.

    Another great post, Sharon.

  40. Oh, I'm so jealous! What a wonderful opportunity. Although, I don't do well in these sorts of situations. I just clam up and get all weird. But thanks for passing along the great info!!

  41. Lots of really good info. here. I especially like the risk-taking encouragement.

    Did Mark talk about current trends, or what the market is hoping to see coming up?

  42. Wendy--Thanks! I'm glad my post was helpful...

    Carolina--Mark made us all feel at ease. :) All you need is a webcam.

    Jennie--mg is hot hot hot!

  43. Seems like such great and fun thing for you and Susan to participate in. I love how the internet and skype can bring people together like never before. very cool stuff.

  44. That's awesome - lucky, lucky you! Thanks for taking the time to summarize all that brilliant info!

  45. Tess--Thanks for stopping by. :) You are right, the internet is an amazing tool.

    Talli--It was great and continues to bring me good fortune...Mark continues to stay in touch with me and had offered advice on a couple of my ms concepts. :) (Thanks for answering my question about Mt. Snowdon...)

  46. What an experience. Thanks for sharing all this valuable info!

  47. I think Mark is really great. You're so lucky to have been invited to participate in that. Thanks for sharing :)